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Sep 30, 16

"Peres bombshell: I stopped an Israeli strike on Iran

Public pays last respects to Peres at Knesset memorial
Israel grants permission for Abbas to attend Peres's funeral in Jerusalem

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"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak were pushing ahead with their plans to attack Iran."
Shimon Peres

Peres outside the Nuclear Research Facility. (photo credit:COUNCIL FOR ATOMIC ENERGY)

If not for Shimon Peres’s intervention, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was planning to bomb Iran, the former president revealed confidentially to The Jerusalem Post over two years ago.

In a meeting at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa on August 24, 2014, Peres dropped the bombshell in a conversation with me and Jerusalem Post Managing Editor David Brinn.

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I have thought long and hard about whether to publish it, and reached the conclusion that he wouldn’t have told us if he didn’t want us to.

I was editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post at the time and had established a close relationship with Peres, who had retired a month earlier as president.

During the course of the conversation (in which just the three of us sat and chatted over coffee), Brinn asked Peres what he considered the greatest achievement of his presidency. He responded by saying that he had personally intervened to stop Netanyahu from ordering a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear sites.

The following is based on my notes:

Peres: I stopped Netanyahu from attacking Iran.

Me: Can you tell us more?

Peres: I don’t want to go into details, but I can tell you that he was ready to launch an attack and I stopped him. I told him the consequences would be catastrophic.

“Can we report this?” I asked.

“When I’m dead,” Peres replied, with a wry smile.

Almost a year later, on June 7, 2015, I moderated a security panel at The Jerusalem Post Fourth Annual Conference in New York in which Senior Contributing Editor Caroline B. Glick got into a heated argument with former IDF chief Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi and the late Mossad director Meir Dagan, charging that they had refused an order from Netanyahu to prepare for an attack against Iran.

In 2010, Glick said, citing a report from the investigative journalism TV program Uvda, “we learned that two of the gentlemen on this panel were given an order to prepare the military for an imminent strike against Iran’s military installations and they refused.”

While pointedly not denying that the order had been given, Dagan insisted: “It was an illegal order. We were always willing to obey any legal order by the prime minister. We never refused an order.”

“You were ordered by the security cabinet,” Glick retorted.

“You were not there. You don’t know what happened there,” said an indignant Dagan.

“There was never a decision about it,” Ashkenazi added, although he acknowledged that he had opposed a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran.

At the Herzliya Conference the following day, Maariv columnist Ben Caspit raised the issue with Peres.

“That journalist [Glick] wasn’t there! How would she know?” Peres raged. “These are issues that should be discussed in the cabinet, not in the media and not in public.”

“Peres had good reason to be angry,” Caspit later wrote on the Al-Monitor media site. “He was one of the key players in that drama, which played out between the summer of 2009 and the summer of 2011. These were some of the tensest times for Israel’s defense establishment. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Ehud Barak were pushing ahead with their plans to attack Iran, while the IDF, headed by Ashkenazi, and the heads of the other defense establishments opposed the move. Ashkenazi and Dagan had the support of none other than the president at the time, Peres, who joined their efforts to thwart the attack.”

Was it in fact Peres, the architect of Israel’s nuclear program, who ultimately foiled an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear sites? He thought so, although he didn’t say how he did it. "

Sep 29, 16

"Posted on Thursday, September 29th, 2016 by Beth Ward

Why is the flag at half staff?

- - - - - - -

As a mark of respect for the memory of Shimon Peres, former President and Prime Minister of Israel, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, on September 30, 2016. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same period at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand sixteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.


Sep 29, 16

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Old Jerusalem station to be turned into top culture spot
When The First Station opens this spring, it won’t be for railroad passengers but for shoppers, diners and culture buffs.
By Abigail Klein Leichman January 29, 2013, 12:00 am
The Old Jerusalem Train Station today.
The Old Jerusalem Train Station today.


In the late 1800s, the introduction of the Jaffa-to-Jerusalem rail line revolutionized travel in the Holy Land. And from 1892 to 1998, the solid stone Ottoman structure at the junction of Jerusalem’s German Colony, Baka and Abu Tor neighborhoods served as its eastern station house.

But when the trains stopped running to downtown Jerusalem, the building fell into disrepair and the rail yard behind it was left to the weeds. Several ideas for repurposing this prime location were floated over the years, and finally the venerable venue will be getting a new life this spring.

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Renamed The First Station, the 130-year-old Israel Railways property is to be a new culture and culinary hub in the capital city.

Vintage locomotives will dot the wood-decked, 4,000-square-meter former rail yard filled with food stalls, café tables, benches and umbrella-topped vendor carts. Inside, black-and-white photos from the station’s past will line the refurbished walls encompassing three gourmet restaurants, a pub and exhibition spaces for musical, literary and artistic events.

A drawing of the complex to open in the spring.
A drawing of the complex to open in the spring.

There will be an adjacent bike path linking The First Station with Train-Track Park, a walking and cycling promenade under construction by Israel Railways and the Jerusalem municipality.

Just like its Jaffa twin

The NIS 35 million ($9.3 million) train station refurbishment is financed by the municipality through its Jerusalem Development Authority in addition to business owners and the same private investment group that transformed the station house at the other end of the line — Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s Hatachana — into a chic complex of cafés and restaurants, designer shops and art galleries.

Both buildings were designed in classic 19th century European and German Templer style, the Jerusalem one of limestone and the Jaffa one of sandstone because those were the local materials available.

As they did in Jaffa, the investors have pledged to work with preservation architects to retain the façade and footprint of the original building. According to their agreement with Israel Railways, they will operate The First Station for 10 years and then it will revert to the company.

But it’s a good bet that the venture will be successful enough to continue as is, because it provides another anchor for the already rich cultural offerings in this historic area of Jerusalem not far from the Old City.

Right across David Remez Square is the Khan Theater; down the road is the Jerusalem Cinemateque and the Menachem Begin Heritage Center; the Jerusalem Theater is a 15-minute walk’s distance; and the Sherover Cultural Center is now being built in Abu Tor.

Here is how the old station used to look.
Here is how the old station used to look.

Mayor Nir Barkat is banking on this new site to shore up Jerusalem’s reputation in the non-religious sphere. Except for kosher eateries that are branches of national chains, everything in The First Station will be open on Saturday – as is the Cinemateque but not much else in the capital city.

“The mayor made this decision a long time ago after considering all sides, and he does not want to hurt or offend anyone,” project spokeswoman Gili Katz tells ISRAEL21c. Barkat’s intention, she adds, is to give secular and non-Jewish residents and tourists in Jerusalem something attractive to do on Friday nights and Saturdays.

It goes without saying that the mayor – and the investors – also intend for The First Station to become a popular new destination for all of Jerusalem’s diverse populations of culture-seekers, whether they are residents or visitors. And it is not only meant for adults; children’s activities are to be part of the regular schedule of events at The First Station."

Sep 29, 16

"Dismissing History Week in Higher Education
Posted by Aleister Saturday, September 24, 2016 at 8:30am

Your weekly campus news report.

Students at Georgetown were recently asked what they think of the U.S. Constitution. Their responses might surprise you, or make you weep for America’s future."

Sep 29, 16

"The Viking Great Army and its Legacy: plotting settlement shift using metal-detected finds Open Data
Dave Haldenby and Julian D. Richards

1. Independent researcher, metal detectorist and volunteer at Hull and East Riding Museum.
2. Department of Archaeology, King's Manor, University of York, YO1 7EP, UK.
[ORCID identifier]

Cite this as: Haldenby, D. and Richards, J.D. (2016) The Viking Great Army and its Legacy: plotting settlement shift using metal-detected finds, Internet Archaeology 42.
Silver-alloy coins of Eanred, c. AD 820-830

Investigation of the Anglian and Anglo-Scandinavian settlement at Burrow House Farm, Cottam, East Yorkshire from 1993-95 was a pioneering collaboration between archaeologists and metal-detectorists, and led to the identification of a new form of Anglo-Scandinavian farmstead. It was also one of the first investigations ever undertaken of a 'productive site', so-called because of the large quantities of early medieval metalwork recovered by metal-detecting. The project provided an important demonstration of the effects of the reorganisation of land ownership following the Scandinavian settlement of Northumbria. Excavation demonstrated that the abandonment of an Anglian 'Butterwick-type' enclosure in the late 9th century was closely followed by the construction of the new Anglo-Scandinavian farmstead some 100m to the north, reinforced by the pattern seen in the horizontal stratigraphy of dated metalwork derived from metal-detecting (Richards 1999a; 2001a).

Subsequently, metal-detecting has continued at the site, almost doubling the quantity of artefacts. This has led to further breakthroughs in the interpretation of the chronological and spatial development of the settlement, as well as some substantial revisions to the typology and dating of early medieval artefacts, with important implications for the chronology of the period. It allows some significant new conclusions to be drawn about settlement development at Cottam, identifying the changing function of the settlements, as well as their location:

There are two phases of Anglian activity, with a transition from an 8th/9th-century estate centre to a 9th-century market, echoing the similar transitions being recorded in Scandinavia at sites such as Tissø. This is the first time such a configuration has been identified in England, and it throws important new light on the nature of 'productive sites'.
There are also two phases of Viking activity, with an initial phase of looting, probably linked to activity by the Viking Great Army, before the establishment of the Anglo-Scandinavian farmstead. This captures the moment of a critical transition in Viking behaviour in England, from raiding to settlement activity. It is also the first time that the activity of a Viking raiding party has been identified at a rural site.

In addition, our project demonstrates that the detailed plotting of surface finds collected with a metal-detector has now been raised to a major technique of historical investigation, and has much greater potential than has hitherto been realised.

One of the initial publications of the Cottam project (Richards 2001a) was itself an early experiment in data publication, with a linked interpretation and archive. The development of e-media now allows an increasingly sophisticated presentation of data, including new means of visualisation. Here the use of Internet Archaeology shows the full potential of the new procedures. An interactive map allows others to examine our hypotheses, and to interrogate the data for themselves. In addition, the revised finds database, along with new photographs of many of the early medieval artefacts, are hosted by the Archaeology Data Service (Haldenby and Richards 2016).

Go to article Table of Contents."

Sep 29, 16

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UK opens secret files about ‘Jewish terrorists’ in 1940s
Newly declassified documents show how British agents tried to contain militant activities, feared attacks on British soil
By Gregory Katz September 29, 2016, 2:53 am 5


The southern wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem following the 1946 terrorist bombing (Screenshot of newsreel footage from YouTube)
The southern wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem following the 1946 terrorist bombing (Screenshot of newsreel footage from YouTube)

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LONDON (AP) — The call to British military security forces came early in the morning, shortly after 1 a.m., and could not be ignored. The informant’s message was alarming: Assassins planned to kill the commander of British forces in Palestine the following morning; evasive action was needed.

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The source didn’t know the details of the plan, but warned that Gen. Evelyn Barker would be attacked on the brief journey between his home in Jerusalem and his office at British headquarters. The assailants were militant Jews from the Stern Gang, determined to drive the British from the land in their bid for Jewish sovereignty.

Before dawn broke on Nov. 14, 1946, according to secret documents declassified Wednesday by the National Archives, Barker’s security team was notified of the imminent threat. He changed his route, other special precautions were put in place, and he arrived without incident.

Barker was particularly controversial because of his incendiary comments after militants bombed Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, used by the British as a political and military base, in July 1946, when Britain was still the administrative power in Palestine under an arrangement worked out in 1920, but was increasingly unable to control events as Jews and Arabs sought control.

The King David Hotel blast killed more than 90 people and infuriated Barker, whose offices were in the hotel.

He reacted by banning British troops from having any social or business dealings with Jews, saying that they would be punished “in a way the race dislikes as much as any, by striking at their pockets and showing our contempt for them.”
This a declassified document released by the British Security Service made available Wednesday Sept. 28, 2016. UK opened secret files about ‘Jewish terrorists’ in 1940s. (The National Archive via AP)

This a declassified document released by the British Security Service made available Wednesday Sept. 28, 2016. (The National Archive via AP)

The plot against Barker is only one of hundreds of plans described in the newly public files that detail how British officials were tormented by the militants. The official British attitude toward the Jewish underground is summed up on the file’s title page: “Jewish Terrorist Activities in the Middle East.”

British influence was waning and the militants sensed a lack of resolve that could be exploited, said Saul Zadka, author of “Blood in Zion: How the Jewish Guerrillas drove the British Out of Palestine.”

“They realized getting rid of the British was the key to establishing Jewish sovereignty in Palestine,” he said.

“The British didn’t have an end game, they didn’t know what to do, and the insurgents’ operations affected the morale of the armed forces very badly. The British papers were saying, ‘If you can’t control Palestine, just get out.’ And it was very expensive to keep 100,000 soldiers there. So overall, holding onto Palestine was not worth it. The cost was too high.”

It is clear from the files that the British were rattled by the constant threat of attack and by fears the violence would spread from the Middle East to Europe and, particularly, to Britain itself.

A July 20, 1946, letter from Lt. Col. Maurice Oldfield to military headquarters warns that two people on the “Jewish Terrorist List” seemed to have infiltrated Paris via an Air France flight.

“This indicates a weakness in our controls,” he said, raising concerns that many more people supposedly being watched “may already, unbeknown to us, be scattered throughout Europe.”

There is a specific warning from British intelligence to Belgian authorities about five individuals planning a “mission.” There are also exchanges between British intelligence and the FBI about the activities of “Jewish commandos” in New York City.

The operational challenge facing British security officials in 1946 was in some ways similar to the ones faced today as Europe’s intelligence agencies try to keep Islamic extremists from entering Europe to launch attacks against civilians.

The files contain an official “top secret” request for “special attention security check of all Jews travelling to the UK” because of the security threat posed by the Stern Gang.
Avraham Ya'ir Stern (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Avraham Ya’ir Stern (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The files also reveal how closely British secret services tracked relations between militant groups like the Stern Gang and Irgun amid fears the rival groups would start to cooperate on joint attacks.

A secret note written on April 14, 1947, warns that a reliable source had told British agents about an agreement between the Stern Gang and the Irgun group to coordinate policy and plans.

“The main point is that terrorist activities are not to be confined only to Palestine — but will take place also in the UK, France and Italy,” the note says, adding that “certain Jewish terrorists” have already arrived in the port city of Alexandria, Egypt, and have purchased a 200-ton ship to be used to transport weapons.

The plots described were many and varied, including a failed plan by militants to blow up the British destroyer Chevron off the coast of Haifa. The files indicate that plotters left a bag of primed explosives and detonators on board and were later arrested on land with concealed explosives.

The files also detail successful kidnappings carried out by the gangs.

The sporadic but deadly attacks spawned extensive British discussions about whether Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin could travel safely to Cairo without undue risk of assassination.

Many attacks were relatively minor, involving small arms fire, grenades, improvised explosives and land mines, but the campaign clearly made it hard for the British to conduct normal business without adding layers of protection. Railways, bridges, government facilities and officers clubs were all targeted.

The state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948; some of the militants went on to become influential figures, including future Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin, who would sign the landmark Camp David peace accords in 1978, and Yitzhak Shamir."

Sep 29, 16

"‘Throne room’ found in Lachish’s monumental gateway dates to period when Hezekiah centralized cult worship in Jerusalem
By Ilan Ben Zion September 28, 2016, 4:20 pm 14


An 8th century BCE "symbolic" toilet found at Lachish during the 2016 excavation by Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists. (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)
An 8th century BCE "symbolic" toilet found at Lachish during the 2016 excavation by Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists. (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)
Ilan Ben Zion
Ilan Ben Zion Ilan Ben Zion is a news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from … [More]

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A 2,700-year-old crapper is hardly the sort of object one would generally expect to be proof tying archaeology to the Bible. But archaeologists digging at Tel Lachish, a major city in the Kingdom of Judah up to its destruction in 701 BCE, point to the toilet as evidence of religious reforms carried out by the biblical king Hezekiah in the 8th century BCE.

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The limestone commode was found inside a chamber of the Iron Age city’s monumental six-chambered gate that served as a shrine. At the time, Lachish was the second city of the Judahite kingdom, whose capital was Jerusalem. The gateway would have served as a meeting place, courthouse and administrative center.

Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Sa’ar Ganor, who headed the excavation of Lachish’s massive portal (the largest yet excavated in the region), said Wednesday that archaeologists had found small altars whose horned corners had been smashed, and in the corner of the room a toilet had been erected.

The desecration of non-Yahwistic cult sites in Judah and Israel involves converting them into a latrine in at least one instance mentioned in the Bible. Recounting Jehu’s destruction of temples to Baal in the Israelite Kingdom to the north, 2 Kings 10:27 says the Israelite king’s men “broke down the pillar of Baal, and broke down the house of Baal, and made it a draught-house, unto this day.”

A few chapters later, the Hebrew chronicle mentions that King Hezekiah, who ruled Lachish but is better known for his Jerusalem waterworks, “removed the high places, and broke the pillars, and cut down the Asherah.”

It would appear, Ganor argued, that Hezekiah’s modus operandi when he worked to centralize religious worship in Jerusalem also involved turning the shrine into a privy.
An 8th century BCE "symbolic" toilet found at Lachish during the 2016 excavation by Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists. (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)

An 8th century BCE “symbolic” toilet found at Lachish during the 2016 excavation by Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists. (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)

“The cult worship was eradicated, here’s the evidence, smashing the altar horns. But not only was it annulled, in Lachish they put in a throne, the same stone you see here,” Ganor said, pointing to the stone toilet.

Phosphates, a telltale marker of ancient middens, weren’t found in laboratory tests of the soil beneath the john, suggesting its defilement of the holy place was largely symbolic.

Seal impressions on pot handles found in another chamber of the gatehouse bear Hezekiah’s royal mark, with ancient Hebrew letters reading “To the king of Hebron,” and another with the name of Naham Avdi, a high-ranking administrator. They’re clear evidence, Ganor said, of centralized governance being conducted at the gate.
Seal impressions on ceramic jar handles bearing the crest of King Hezekiah with the words "To the king of Hebron," found during excavations at Lachish in 2016. (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)

Seal impressions on ceramic jar handles bearing the crest of King Hezekiah with the words “To the king of Hebron,” found during excavations at Lachish in 2016. (Ilan Ben Zion/Times of Israel staff)

The discovery outside the Old City of Jerusalem of a seal impression bearing Hezekiah’s name and a similar symbol as those found in Lachish was announced last December.

It’s unclear which deities were worshiped at the gateway shrine at Lachish, but it “wasn’t kosher,” Ganor quipped. The archaeological evidence points to the holy site being a relatively minor installation. Terracotta lamps, plates and offering stands were found inside, but there was nothing pointing to animal sacrifice.

The gateway itself was completely destroyed by Assyrian King Sennacherib’s army in 701 BCE, in a siege described in the biblical account and in a monumental relief from the Assyrian capital of Nineveh (now at the British Museum, but a replica is on display at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum). Assyrian and Judean arrowheads were found in the soil from the layer of destruction.
Part of the Lachish Relief, on display at the British Museum. (CC BY-SA Mike Peel, Wikimedia Commons)

Part of the Lachish Relief, on display at the British Museum. (CC BY-SA Mike Peel, Wikimedia Commons)

“Everything connects in a wonderful way to Assyrian sources… and the Bible as well as to the archaeological evidence,” he said.

Ganor said he couldn’t tell when the use of the shrine began, but it ended with the city’s conquest.
An aerial view of Tel Lachish (CC BY-SA אסף.צ, Wikimedia Commons)

An aerial view of Tel Lachish (CC BY-SA אסף.צ, Wikimedia Commons)


Sep 29, 16

By IVAN SANDERS; Ivan Sanders is preparing an English translation of ''Book of Memoirs,'' a new work by the Hungarian novelist Peter Nadas.
Published: January 22, 1989


BUDAPEST 1900 A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture. By John Lukacs. Illustrated. 255 pp. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

It is one of the ironies of post-modern Europe that as its most prosperous capitals betray more and more signs of physical and spiritual uniformity, urbanists as well as tourists have begun to look toward the smaller, far less streamlined, faded and neglected cities of the Continent for a unique sense of history and continuity, for qualities still perceived as essentially European. Some of these cities lie hundreds of miles east of the more renowned urban centers, yet what they offer the curiosity seekers beyond quaint, old-world manners is a cultural and social legacy that has remained intact in spite of - and often because of - economic backwardness and political regimentation.

Of course such attractions are always suspect. Could it simply be our insatiable nostalgia for the belle epoque that draws us now even to the lesser cities of Europe? Are we down to glorifying the backwaters? Actually, by the turn of the century the center of gravity of European culture had shifted eastward. The critic George Steiner and the historian Carl Schorske have written illuminatingly in recent years about the seminal importance of fin de siecle Vienna. Now, in ''Budapest 1900,'' the Hungarian-born urban historian and essayist John Lukacs has given us an admirably vivid portrait of the other capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The junior partner in the Dual Monarchy, Hungary was in constant competition with Austria, but its young capital (the previously separate cities of Buda and Pest were unified in 1872), meant to be a superior copy of Vienna, turned out to be a very different kind of city, at once more provincial and more restlessly modern. And whereas Viennese culture in 1900 was already in its resplendent decline, Budapest in that year was enjoying its ''noon hour,'' as Mr. Lukacs puts it. Caught up in a fever of growth and expansion, energized by its ethnic mix and a penchant for bigness, the new capital on the Danube was in fact more like an American boom town than anything staidly European.

The statistics cited by Mr. Lukacs are staggering indeed. Between 1867 (the year of Hungary's historic compromise with Austria, which virtually gave the Hungarians home rule) and 1914 the city's population trebled; the number of banks grew from 11 to 160; the volume of freight moved by Hungarian trains increased from 3 million tons a year to 275 million. In 1900 22 daily newspapers were published in Budapest, and this nascent center of culture was also, until overtaken by Minneapolis, the largest city of flour mills in the world. Overseeing the phenomenal growth was a progressive and farsighted municipal government that helped Budapest become, within just a few decades, a model European metropolis. Hungarians today like to point out that whatever is still impressive about their capital, whatever still works, dates from this period.

In a pivotal chapter, ''The Generation of 1900,'' Mr. Lukacs discusses the luminaries of Budapest, concentrating not so much on writers, musicians and Nobel Prize-winning scientists who achieved fame after they left their native city, but on those who stayed and whose accomplishments, often because they were language-bound, didn't travel well either. What could have turned easily into just another roster of Budapest-born international greats thus becomes a searching look at the genius of a city. For instance, the author's own sensitive translations of passages from the works of Gyula Krudy, a master of Hungarian prose, suggest much about the earthiness and delicacy of a literary culture that is still little appreciated in the West.

Yet there is no denying that the sophistication of this city was essentially European and cosmopolitan, and for this very reason its detractors from the beginning labeled the capital an alien phenomenon, a rootless, frivolous, wicked place. To many a Hungarian nationalist Budapest was ''Judapest'' - the achievements of world-famous Jewish Hungarians to them were not Hungarian achievements at all. It so happens that a high percentage of notable Budapesters discussed or mentioned in the book were Jewish-born, and though Mr. Lukacs doesn't make much of this, implicit in his story of Budapest in 1900 is the remarkably successful assimilation, or at least acculturation, of the Jews of Hungary. Statistics are once again telling: during the last third of the 19th century, 120 prominent Hungarian Jewish families were granted patents of nobility by the Emperor Franz Josef, and although Jews constituted not quite 5 percent of Hungary's population, in 1910 nearly half the country's doctors, lawyers and journalists were Jewish.

Perhaps nowhere else in Europe had Jews risen so high so fast; nowhere did they embrace the dominant culture so wholeheartedly. But after 1900, the author argues, the liberal alliance among the Hungarian aristocracy, the provincial gentry and the up-and-coming middle classes began to break down, and a new kind of intolerant nationalism, a far more virulent anti-Semitism, took hold. Jews were now seen as an aggressive, ''hard'' minority imposing their values on a ''soft'' majority. Mr. Lukacs's sober response to this often-voiced charge is worth quoting: ''What was - and still is - wrong with this view is the attribution of conspiracy behind it. . . . Many people of the 'soft' majority, surely in Budapest, had adopted some of the values and standards, and some of the language and tone, of that minority without that minority having foisted those upon them.''

John Lukacs is in many ways an old-fashioned chronicler, an ''impressionistic historian'' as he himself says at one point, evoking with considerable artistry the vibrant colors, pungent smells and melancholy undercurrents of his native city. But he is also rather selective, revealing deeply conservative instincts. Not only does he have very little to say about urban poverty in turn-of-the-century Budapest; he is unrelentingly hostile to the radical social movements that sprang up in that city, and is especially dismissive of the Marxist philosopher Georg Lukacs (''no relation of mine,'' he remarks dryly in a footnote). All the same, ''Budapest 1900'' is a special book - an eloquent tribute to a city by an urbane man of letters. EQUAL TIME FOR VIENNA'S NEIGHBOR

The obvious question for John Lukacs, born in Hungary in 1928 and writing about it for the first time in a 13-book career, is: Were you nostalgic, trying to recapture a lost past? No, he said, in a telephone conversation from his home outside Philadelphia. It was not nostalgia that moved him to write ''Budapest 1900,'' but an interest, perhaps tinged by national pride, in creating a certain balance, giving Budapest back its importance to the history of the West.

''For some time,'' he said, ''I thought there was an exaggerated and even neurotic interest devoted to Vienna at the turn of the century and, way in the back of my mind, I thought that somebody should do something about Budapest too, which also flourished at that time. It's true, many of the ideas current in Vienna fit the interests of the late 20th century, so Vienna is more important in that sense. And yet I felt that all this interest in Vienna was a bit of a mixed blessing.''

Mr. Lukacs, who has taught history at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia for 42 years, has written a portrait of that city from 1900 to 1950 and a 20th-century history of the United States. He previously avoided Eastern Europe, not wanting, he said, ''to be an Eastern European intellectual simply writing about his native country.'' Now, particularly with the appearance in Hungary of new scholarship on the turn-of-the-century epoch, ''I thought the time had come to do a serious book on the subject.''

''My main interest - it sounds recondite but it really isn't - is the history of history,'' he said. ''My most important but least known book is 'Historical Consciousness,' and all of my books are about historical consciousness. I start with a material description of the city and then a description of the people, then move on to politics, to intellectual life and, finally, to certain spiritual currents. This method is a reflection of a certain hierarchy that embodies my historical philosophy.'' RICHARD BERNSTEIN "

Sep 28, 16

"No, rather, I couldn’t help but laugh uproariously at an article about which the Friendly Atheist gave me the heads up, an article by that master of woo, Deepak Chopra, entitled Donald Trump and the Looking-Glass War. In it, Chopra seems to be going out of his way to nuke another one of my irony meters.

For example:

More than one observer has remarked that the tactics of the Trump campaign, which misses no opportunity to turn the truth upside down, have taken us to a crossroads.

And that’s just the first sentence. Remember, Deepak Chopra is a man who is so full of himself (and woo) that nearly a decade ago I coined a term for the mixture of mystical blather liberally sprinkled with science-y sounding bits of science utilizing terms like “quantum,” “cosmic consciousness,” and “epigenetics.” That term was “Choprawoo.” Once you read a few Chopra articles you’ll be able to recognize it in a few sentences and realize that there’s only one proper response to Choprawoo. After all, he’s applied it to attack evolution as “materialism,” by invoking “intelligent genes,” and, of course, by attacking Richard Dawkins. Sadly, he’s actually conned real scientists into collaborating with him to do a clinical trial.

In fairness, my amusement with Chopra’s article is not about Choprawoo, though. It’s about an extreme lack of self-awareness, such as here:

The looking-glass war is a contest taking place in collective consciousness. According to a fact-based view of reality, the U.S. is not in imminent danger from terrorism on a mass scale; we are a prosperous, growing economy; our military strength far surpasses any other nation; immigrants are a positive force in our pluralistic society, not a gang of criminals and freeloaders. But facts aren’t the same as consciousness, and the wrong-is-right strategy that the Republicans have fostered for decades is rising to claim what is due to it. Because they owe their political survival to the very values that Trumpism expresses in exaggerated form, few Republicans are safe enough, or courageous enough, to speak out against him, and the prospect that this grotesque caricature of a candidate may actually win the Presidency has actually had the opposite effect. It has made estranged Republicans “come home,” as they say, which means the embrace of shameless, shameful values as if they are acceptable.


Collective consciousness holds up a mirror to the truth, and in the end there is no arguing against reality, wherever it takes us. My only point is to underline that all of us are reflected in the mirror as individuals

There is “no arguing against reality”? Really? “No arguing against reality”? Chopra is a man who has spent his entire life and career since abandoning real medicine for quackery and science for pseudoscience arguing against reality and losing! Just look at his brief bio after the op-ed. It lists him as being the author of Super Genes: Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being. Basically, it’s a book that invokes epigenetics to claim that you are the “user and controller of your genes, the author of your biological story.” Basically, it’s the same quack view of epigenetics as a magical biological mechanism that allows you to basically tell your genes whatever you want them to do and protect you from pretty much any disease. The bio also mentions that he is the author of Quantum Healing (Revised and Updated): Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine, perhaps the ultimate popularizer of the misuse of quantum physics to justify quackery. If you don’t believe me, just look at the blurb:

Inspired by the unexplained recovery of patients in his own practice who had been given just a few months to live, Dr. Chopra began his search for answers. After returning to his native India to explore humanity’s most ancient healing tradition, Ayurveda, he combined those insights with Western medicine, neuroscience, and physics. What he discovered—a “network of intelligence” in the human body with the potential to defeat cancer, heart disease, even aging itself—forms the basis of Quantum Healing. In this new edition, Dr. Chopra once again offers a fascinating intellectual journey and a deeply moving chronicle of hope and healing.

Now there’s your Choprawoo. Here’s some more that Chopra used recently to sell something he calls a HumaGram™:

HumaGrams are life-size photo-realistic digital representations of people, projected using ARHT’s patent-pending Augmented Reality Holographic Technology, capable of eliminating time and geography by allowing a speaker to appear in front of an audience as a hologram in real-time for a two-way interaction, without having the need to physically be there.


With the advent of HumaGrams in the health and wellness space, individuals can now be beamed into virtually any location around the world using the public Internet, and can interact with multiple audiences in multiple locations in real-time opening up endless boundaries for greater engagement and collaboration. The use of this technology will bring the insights of key thought leaders to the masses while fusing the online with the offline. Jiyo users will be able to access a schedule of lectures, meditations, and workshops around the world where a HumaGram of these experts will be available to interact with them.

I was only disappointed that Chopra didn’t invoke quantum physics.

Still, given Chopra’s skill at laying down the world’s most concentrated woo over a long period of time, I’m sure you can see why yet another of my irony meters is lying on the table in a bubbling, quivering pile of molten plastic and wires.

I just had a terrifying thought: What if Donald Trump and Deepak Chopra joined forces? The woo would be YUGE, perhaps so huge that the world couldn’t handle it. I also had another thought. Even though Chopra is correct about Trump’s relationship with reality, he needs to learn to realize that he’s no different. In fact, he’s probably worse."

Sep 28, 16

"A leading Labour activist was heckled at an anti-Semitism meeting on Monday after she wrongly criticised Holocaust Memorial Day for not including non-Jewish genocide victims.

In secret footage obtained by HuffPostUK Jackie Walker also stirred anger as she questioned the need for security at Jewish schools, and said she hadn’t heard an anti-Semitism definition she could “work with”.

To jeers, the Momentum vice-chair said “wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust day was open to all peoples who’ve experienced Holocaust?”

When told the day was indeed for all post- World War II genocides, she said “in practice it is not circulated and advertised as such.”
The event was an activist training session on challenging anti-Semitism

Speaking at a Labour conference fringe, which was set up to train activists to challenge anti-Semitism, Walker also said extra security measures in Jewish schools in the UK were not due to fear of anti-Semitic attacks.

“I was a bit concerned... at your suggestions that the Jewish community is under such threat that they have to use security in all its buildings”, she said.

“I have a grandson, he is a year old. There is security in his nursery and every school has security now. It’s not because I’m frightened or his parents are frightened that he is going to be attacked.”

This was met with heckles from the crowd. One audience member said: “is ISIS going to attack your grandson’s nursery?”

To anger, Walker said also she hadn’t “heard a definition of anti-Semitism that I can work with.”

Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement Jeremy Newmark said he was “appalled” at Walker’s comments, and called on her to apologise or resign.

“I am appalled that somebody who has already caused great hurt and pain to so many Jewish people by promoting an anti-Semitic myth would come to a training session designed to help Party activists address anti-Semitism and use the occasion to challenge the legitimacy of the training itself”, he said.

“To denigrate security provision at Jewish schools, make false claims about the universality of National Holocaust Memorial Day and to challenge recognised definitions of anti-Semitism is provocative, offensive and a stark example of the problem facing the Labour party today.

“As Vice Chair of Momentum Jackie Walker has consistently failed to demonstrate any sensitivity to the impact of her words and actions upon the Jewish community. She must now consider her position, show some sensitivity and contrition or resign.”

Karen Pollock the CEO of the Holocaust Educational Trust said Walker had “undermined and belittled” Jews:

“The Holocaust was a defining episode in history where 6 million men, women and children were brutally murdered simply for being Jewish; the very epitome of man’s inhumanity to man.

“Whilst Holocaust Memorial Day rightly and proudly commemorates the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, one has to wonder why Ms Walker takes issue with commemorating the mass extermination of Jews in its own right.

“The deliberate use of term ‘HolocaustS’ - plural - undermines and belittles the distinct nature of the tragedy itself, ignores that genocides are the result of diverse and unique factors, and also deprives the Jewish community of their collective memory.”

At the meeting on Monday the Labour activist denied she was looking to offend people. “I came here with an open mind and I was seeking for information”, she said.

“I’m not saying anything objectionable.”

In May Walker was readmitted to the Labour party after she was suspended earlier in the month over alleged anti-Semitic comments on Facebook.

In comments on the site she had written about Jews as “chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade”.

This comes as a Labour member who heckled a leading figure in the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) during his speech to the party conference says anti-Semitism is being used as a “weapon” to attack Jeremy Corbyn.

On Tuesday, Mike Katz, the national vice chairman of the JLM, was shouted at as he demanded Labour immediate changes be made to party rules to crack down on racism and anti-Semitism.

Jeremy Corbyn has been dogged by allegations he does not take anti-Semitism within Labour seriously. However the Labour leader has said “there is unity in the party in opposing any form anti-Semitism, any form of racism”.


Amid rumours that Labour would take action against her, Jackie Walker tweeted:

Soon after, she deleted the tweet and posted this correction:

Sep 28, 16

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About The Author

Nikki B Usher
University of Southern California

doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication

Home About Login Register Search Current Archives Announcements SUBMISSIONS

Home > Volume 13, Number 12 - 1 December 2008 > Usher

First Monday

Reviewing Fauxtography: A blog-driven challenge to mass media power without the promises of networked publicity by Nikki B. Usher

During the Israel–Hezbollah War of 2006, bloggers caught Reuters publishing doctored images from Lebanon. Known by bloggers as Fauxtography, the scandal provides an important site to analyze the ability of blogs to challenge mainstream media. One blog in particular was almost single–handedly responsible for unearthing and for publicizing the scandal — Little Green Footballs. This paper uses the scandal as a case study to assess how Little Green Footballs was able to mount a challenge to mainstream media. Despite theorizing to the contrary about the collective promise of networked publics, Fauxtography reveals that one of the biggest challenges of late to mainstream media came from the activities of a single blogger.

Theoretical framework
Setting: The Israel–Hezbollah War of 2006
Anatomy of a scandal
Analysis of the scandal
A public on the Web? Assessing LGF as oppositional discourse
Future study"

Sep 28, 16

"von Michel Houellebecq 27.9.2016, 05:30 Uhr
Der französische Schriftsteller Michel Houellebecq ist in Berlin mit dem Frank-Schirrmacher-Preis ausgezeichnet worden. In seiner Dankesrede diagnostiziert er westliche Müdigkeit und prognostiziert Europas Untergang.

Er habe die französischen Intellektuellen mit seinen Grenzüberschreitungen befreit, sagt Michel Houellebecq. (Bild: Andreu Dalmau / EPA)
Er habe die französischen Intellektuellen mit seinen Grenzüberschreitungen befreit, sagt Michel Houellebecq. (Bild: Andreu Dalmau / EPA)

Früher war es in Frankreich üblich – und das ist es, wie ich annehme, in nahezu allen Ländern –, dass man über einen kürzlich Verstorbenen nichts Schlechtes sagt. Ich erinnere mich noch, dass dieser Damm 2005 brach, als Guillaume Dustan starb. Der Hass, der ihm vonseiten der militanten Mitglieder von «Act Up» (ein Verband von Aids-Aktivisten, die Red.) entgegengeschlagen war, legte sich nicht mit seinem Tod, und gewisse Leute zögerten nicht, den Toten bereits am Tag nach seinem Ableben in den Zeitungen zu attackieren. Dasselbe Phänomen hat sich dieses Jahr mit Maurice Dantec wiederholt. Und mit mir, das kann ich jetzt schon sagen, wird es noch schlimmer kommen.

Es gibt viele französische Journalisten, die sich über meinen Tod ganz ernsthaft freuen werden. Ich meinerseits gebe die Hoffnung nicht auf, solange ich lebe, zum Bankrott gewisser Zeitungen beizutragen. Das wird sehr schwierig, denn in Frankreich werden die Zeitungen vom Staat unterhalten – in meinen Augen übrigens eine der am wenigsten gerechtfertigten, ja eigentlich skandalösesten öffentlichen Ausgaben dieses Landes.
Ein streitbarer Zeitgenosse

Michel Houellebecq ist ein französischer Schriftsteller. Im Januar 2015 erschien sein bisher letzter Roman «Soumission» am Tag der Anschläge auf «Charlie Hebdo». Er zeichnet darin die langsame Machtübernahme eines moderaten Islam nach (hier finden Sie unsere Rezension).
Bei dem vorliegenden Text handelt es sich um die gekürzte Dankesrede zur Verleihung des Frank-Schirrmacher-Preises 2016 am 26. September in Berlin.

Unmöglich erscheint es mir dennoch nicht, da die Zeitungen in den letzten Jahren doch viele Leser verloren haben. Alle linken Medien, d. h. fast alle französischen Medien, befinden sich in einer schwierigen Lage. Es fehlen ihnen Leser. Allgemeiner gesprochen, ist die Linke in Frankreich allem Anschein nach am Sterben, ein Prozess, der sich seit dem Amtsantritt von François Hollande beschleunigt hat. Aus diesem Grund vor allem ist die Linke immer aggressiver und bösartiger geworden. Es handelt sich um den klassischen Fall des in die Enge getriebenen Tiers, das Todesangst verspürt und gefährlich wird.

Ich halte es für nützlich, an dieser Stelle zu präzisieren, was meine Existenz und der Erfolg meiner Bücher in Gefahr bringen, und zwar so sehr, dass man mir glaubwürdig den Tod wünscht. Sehr häufig verwendet man dafür den Ausdruck «politisch korrekt», aber stattdessen würde ich gern ein etwas anderes Konzept einführen, das ich den «neuen Progressivismus» nennen möchte.

Der «neue Progressivismus» hat seinen perfekten und vollständigen Ausdruck mit einer Publikation im Jahr 2002 erreicht – einem schmalen Band von Daniel Lindenberg von wenig mehr als siebzig Seiten mit dem Titel «Aufruf zur Ordnung» und dem Untertitel «Untersuchung über die neuen Reaktionäre». Ich war einer der Hauptangeklagten, einer der Vordersten in der Reihe der neuen Reaktionäre.

Der Untertitel wirkte damals auf mich einigermassen bizarr. Er machte den Eindruck, der Autor wolle ausdrücken, dass die neuen Reaktionäre sich eines Aufrufs zur Ordnung schuldig gemacht hätten. Tatsächlich schien es mir aber, ich selbst sei es, der zur Ordnung gerufen werden sollte: «Achtung, Sie haben vergessen, sich der Linken zuzuschlagen, aber Sie können das noch korrigieren.»
Michel Houellebecq auf der Manifesta in Zürich. Für eine der ersten Präsentationen seiner Arbeit als bildender Künstler lenkt Michel Houellebecq einen Blick auf Krankheit und Gesundheit seines eigenen Körpers. (Bild: Ennio Leanza / Keystone)
Michel Houellebecq auf der Manifesta in Zürich. Für eine der ersten Präsentationen seiner Arbeit als bildender Künstler lenkt Michel Houellebecq einen Blick auf Krankheit und Gesundheit seines eigenen Körpers. (Bild: Ennio Leanza / Keystone)
Die neuen Reaktionäre

Zu Beginn des Jahres 2016 ist eine Neuauflage des Büchleins erschienen. Auf dem Umschlag heisst es nun auf einem roten Streifen «Die Vorhersage», und es gibt ein unveröffentlichtes Nachwort des Autors, aus dem ich Ihnen jetzt einen Auszug vorlese, um Ihnen zu zeigen, in welchem Ausmass er mit sich zufrieden ist. «Ein unvorstellbares Sperrfeuer hat 2002 das Erscheinen dessen begleitet, was einige verächtlich ein Pamphlet genannt haben. Seither ist viel Wasser unter den Brücken hindurchgeflossen. Die Thesen, die ich, umgeben von allgemeiner Skepsis, damals aufstellte, werden heute als fruchtbar betrachtet. Jene, die mich als Inquisitor oder als Phantasten hinstellten, sind heute die Ersten, die die Champagnerkorken knallen lassen, um ihren Sieg im Krieg der Ideen zu feiern.»

Lindenberg hat recht, wenn er sagt, sein Buch sei 2002 schlecht aufgenommen worden. Man hat ihm vorgeworfen, alles durcheinanderzuwerfen und unter dem Etikett «neue Reaktionäre» Leute zusammenzufassen, deren Meinungen auf nichts dergleichen zu schliessen erlaubten.

Zum ersten Mal kann man beispielsweise, Lindenbergs Buch gemäss, Reaktionär sein, nicht weil man rechts ist, sondern weil man zu links ist.

Da muss ich ihn paradoxerweise verteidigen. Es stimmt, er subsumiert Menschen, deren Gedanken nichts damit zu tun haben. Aber wenn die neuen Reaktionäre derart verschieden voneinander sind, derart unterschiedlich, dass sie definitiv nichts miteinander gemein haben, dann ist dies so, weil ihre Gegner, die neuen Progressivisten, ein enger denn je definierter, äusserst kleiner und äusserst anspruchsvoller Kreis sind.

Zum ersten Mal kann man beispielsweise, Lindenbergs Buch gemäss, Reaktionär sein, nicht weil man rechts ist, sondern weil man zu links ist. Ein Kommunist oder jeder, der sich den Gesetzen der Marktökonomie als letztem Ziel widersetzt, ist ein Reaktionär. Ein Anhänger staatlicher Souveränität oder jeder, der strikt gegen die Auflösung seines Landes in einem föderalen europäischen Raum ist, ist ein Reaktionär. Jemand, der den Gebrauch der französischen Sprache in Frankreich verteidigt oder jenen jeder anderen Nationalsprache in ihrem jeweiligen Land und der sich der universellen Verwendung des Englischen entgegenstellt, ist ein Reaktionär. Jemand, der der parlamentarischen Demokratie und dem Parteiensystem misstraut, jemand, der dieses System nicht als die Ultima Ratio politischer Organisation begreift, jemand, der es gerne sähe, dass der Bevölkerung öfter das Wort erteilt wird, ist ein Reaktionär. Jemand, der dem Internet und den Smartphones wenig Sympathie entgegenbringt, ist ein Reaktionär. Jemand, der Massenvergnügungen so wenig mag wie organisierten Tourismus, ist ein Reaktionär.

Zusammengefasst ist es nach dem neuen Konzept des Progressivismus, wie es Lindenberg entwickelt hat, nicht die Natur einer Innovation, die sie zu einer guten macht, sondern es ist das Charakteristikum des Innovativen selbst. Der progressivistische Glaube nach Lindenberg besagt, dass wir in der besten aller Epochen leben und dass jede wie auch immer geartete Innovation diese, allen voraufgegangenen Epochen überlegene Epoche noch weiter verbessern wird.

Das Kurioseste an Lindenbergs Schrift besteht darin, dass die Hauptangeklagten, die am häufigsten und ausgiebigsten zitierten «neuen Reaktionäre», streng genommen nicht etwa Intellektuelle waren. Es handelte sich um Maurice Dantec, Philippe Muray und mich.

Ich habe den Eindruck, dass weder Maurice Dantec noch Philippe Muray im deutschsprachigen Raum sehr bekannt sind. Das bedauere ich, aber ich werde gleichwohl von ihnen sprechen, denn ich finde Lindenbergs Wahl ganz vortrefflich. Die Ideen von Muray und Dantec verdienen Verbreitung, sehr viel mehr als jene der meisten Intellektuellen und auch mehr als meine.

Das ist keine Bescheidenheit; ich weiss, was ich als Autor wert bin, ich war noch nie bescheiden, und ich lehne die Bescheidenheit auch ab. Das ist vielmehr eine Tatsache: Ich betrachte sie als mir intellektuell leicht überlegen.

Zunächst. Wen würde man in Frankreich als Intellektuellen bezeichnen? Soziologisch gesprochen, ist das eine ganz präzise Sache. Es ist jemand, der fleissig studiert hat, am besten an der Ecole Normale Supérieure, mindestens aber an einer Universität, Fachbereich Literatur oder Geisteswissenschaften. Es ist jemand, der ab und zu Essays veröffentlicht. Der einen hinreichend wichtigen Platz in einer Zeitschrift besetzt, die sich den intellektuellen Debatten widmet. Und dessen Name regelmässig unter Meinungsstücken zu Ideendebatten steht, in den entsprechenden Rubriken der wichtigsten Tageszeitungen.

Mitunter werde ich als eine Art Prophet betrachtet, während es mir doch offensichtlich erscheint, dass meine prophetischen Fähigkeiten weit geringer ausgebildet sind als die meiner zwei Kameraden.

Weder Dantec noch Muray oder ich erfüllen auch nur eines dieser Kriterien. Wir wären eher als Schriftsteller zu bezeichnen, was eine davon verschiedene soziologische Kategorie ist. In Wirklichkeit gibt es sogar nur ganz wenig Berührung zwischen Intellektuellen und Schriftstellern. Vor dem Erscheinen von Lindenbergs Buch kannte ich keinen der zitierten Intellektuellen persönlich, ich hatte niemals Gelegenheit gehabt, ihnen zu begegnen. Dagegen kannte ich Muray und Dantec sehr gut.

Ich werde versuchen zusammenzufassen, was diese drei Schriftsteller, die als wichtigste Inspiration einer «neoreaktionären Bewegung» angesehen werden, die heute angeblich das Zentrum des intellektuellen Lebens in Frankreich bildet, genau gedacht haben und was sie sich vorgestellt haben für die Zukunft. Mitunter werde ich als eine Art Prophet betrachtet, während es mir doch offensichtlich erscheint, dass meine prophetischen Fähigkeiten weit geringer ausgebildet sind als die meiner zwei Kameraden. Diese Illusion ist entstanden, weil es manchmal seltsame Koinzidenzen gibt zwischen dem Erscheinen meiner Bücher und anderen, weitaus dramatischeren Ereignissen.

Es stimmt, «Soumission» («Unterwerfung») ist in Frankreich am Tag der Anschläge auf «Charlie Hebdo» erschienen. Weniger bekannt ist, dass ich der «New York Times» ein Interview über «Plattform» gegeben hatte – ein Interview, in dem der Journalist übrigens fand, ich übertreibe wahrscheinlich die islamistische Gefahr. Nun – dieses Interview ist in der «New York Times» vom 11. September 2001 erschienen. Kurzum, es scheint, dass Gott (oder das Schicksal oder eine andere grausame Gottheit) sich damit amüsiert, unter Benutzung meiner Bücher tragische Koinzidenzen hervorzubringen.
Houellebecqs Vision eines islamischen Frankreich
Im Spiegel der Dekadenz
von Jürgen Ritte 7.1.2015, 17:18

Aber wenn man das grössere Bild betrachtet, was genau habe ich da prophezeit? Zunächst, und das gilt für mehrere meiner Bücher, das Aufkommen des Transhumanismus. Das vollzieht sich gerade, im Moment zwar nur langsam, aber es ist in der Tat möglich, dass diese Bewegung an Fahrt gewinnt. Dann, in «Unterwerfung», die Machtergreifung eines moderaten Islam, dem sich ein Europa, das seinen Werten abgeschworen hat, die ihm im Grunde nicht mehr passen, unterwerfen würde.
Anschlag auf «Charlie Hebdo»
Infame Figuren
von Rainer Stadler 8.1.2015, 09:05

Im Augenblick könnte man ja nicht sagen, wie sich in Europa der gemässigte Islam manifestiert. So gesehen, könnte man mich für einen schlechten Propheten halten. Es gibt da nur diese kleinen Anzeichen, die sich langsam bemerkbar machen. Zunächst – und tatsächlich wie in meinem Buch – wäre da die Biegsamkeit des Rückgrats der europäischen Universitäten, insbesondere der französischen, die Leichtigkeit, mit der sie gleich welche Konzession machen, sobald wichtige Finanzierungen, die aus den Golf-Monarchien stammen, auf dem Spiel stehen. Da entdeckt man sie wieder, die natürliche Eignung der Franzosen zur Kollaboration.

Man könnte sagen, ich bin ein Prophet im halben Sinn des Wortes, ein Prophet, dessen Vorhersagen sich nur sehr langsam realisieren.

Dann der Umstand, dass junge Mädchen in vielen Stadtteilen mehr und mehr davon absehen, sich sexy oder provozierend zu kleiden, damit sie in Ruhe gelassen werden. Tatsache ist, und das fiel mir neulich wieder ein, dass die jungen Mädchen heute, verglichen mit meiner Jugend, sehr viel weniger aufregend gekleidet sind. Zu wissen, ob das nun eine schlechte Sache ist oder nicht, ist übrigens eine ambivalente Frage für mich. Mir scheint, man könnte aus meinen Büchern radikal entgegengesetzte Schlüsse ableiten, mit gleicher Plausibilität.
«Charlie Hebdo»
Die stille Preisgabe der Medienfreiheit
von Milosz Matuschek 20.1.2015, 06:30

Kurz, man könnte sagen, ich bin ein Prophet im halben Sinn des Wortes, ein Prophet, dessen Vorhersagen sich nur sehr langsam realisieren. Und jetzt zu Maurice Dantec. Was hat er vorhergesagt?

Zunächst so wie ich das Aufkommen des Transhumanismus. An diesem Punkt finden wir wieder zueinander, abgesehen davon, dass ich mich vor allem für den genetischen Aspekt interessiere und er sich für die mentale Hybridisierung von Mensch und Maschine. Sagen wir, wir ergänzen einander. Und da kommen wir zu demselben Urteil: Es beginnt zu entstehen, nach und nach.
Von der Presse umzingelt: Am 8. November 2010 erhält Michel Houellebecq den französischen Literaturpreis «Prix Goncourt» für sein Buch «La carte et le territoire». (Bild: Thibault Camus / AP)
Von der Presse umzingelt: Am 8. November 2010 erhält Michel Houellebecq den französischen Literaturpreis «Prix Goncourt» für sein Buch «La carte et le territoire». (Bild: Thibault Camus / AP)
Das Auftreten des Jihadismus

Dann – und da ist seine Prophezeiung wirklich fulminant, denn er hat das vor allen anderen kommen sehen: das Auftreten des Jihadismus. Das Wiedererscheinen eines angreifenden, gewalttätigen Islam, angetrieben von Welteroberungsplänen, eines Islam, der Attentate durchführt und die ganze Welt mit Bürgerkrieg überzieht. Was hat Dantec in den Stand versetzt, diese unglaubliche Intuition zu entwickeln? Unbestreitbar die Tatsache, dass er während des Balkankrieges nach Bosnien gegangen ist – nach Bosnien, das eines der ersten Länder war, in denen der internationale Jihadismus seine Leute ausbildete. Das war es, Maurice Dantec ist nach Bosnien gefahren, und er hat verstanden, was dort gerade geschah. Er war der Einzige.

Aber am faszinierendsten ist, welche Position Maurice Dantec daraufhin eingenommen hat. Die Haltung unserer Regierungen, insbesondere der französischen, war doch grob gesagt diese: «Wir werden siegen, denn unsere Werte sind die stärkeren: die Trennung von Kirche und Staat, die Demokratie, der Liberalismus, die Menschenrechte usw.» Und noch dazu (aber davon sprechen sie nicht) sind wir die besser Bewaffneten.

Dantec sagt etwas ganz anderes. Und hier muss ich ihn, kurioserweise, neben Philippe Muray stellen. Ihre Schriften mögen denkbar verschieden sein, aber hier treffen sie sich und ergänzen einander. Es gibt einen kaum bekannten Text von Philippe Muray, der 2002 unter dem Titel «Liebe Jihadisten» veröffentlicht wurde und von einer sehr dunklen Ironie durchtränkt ist. Lassen Sie mich Ihnen einen Auszug daraus vorlesen: «Liebe Jihadisten! Fürchtet den Zorn des Mannes in Bermudashorts! Fürchtet die Wut des Konsumenten, des Reisenden, des Touristen, des Urlaubers, der aus seinem Wohnwagen steigt! Ihr stellt euch vor, wie wir uns suhlen in unseren Freuden und Vergnügungen, die uns haben verweichlichen lassen.» An anderen Stelle mokiert er sich sanft über Salman Rushdie, der über die Islamisten schreibt: «Sie wollen uns alle guten Dinge des Lebens nehmen: Schinkensandwiches und Miniröcke . . .»

Einzig eine spirituelle Macht wie das Christentum oder das Judentum wäre seiner Meinung nach imstande, mit einer anderen spirituellen Macht wie dem Islam zu kämpfen.

Wieder an anderer Stelle bezeichnet er «Le Monde» als «quotidien de révérence» (also als Tageszeitung der Verneigung, statt référence, Referenz-Blatt, im Sinne von bedeutendem Blatt, Blatt, auf das die anderen Bezug nehmen, die Red.) oder als «quotidien de déférence» (Journal der Ehrerbietung). Ich glaube, diese Beispiele reichen, damit Sie den Stil Philippe Murays einordnen können; ich darf Sie im Übrigen zurückverweisen an sein Werk, in dem beinahe alles wert ist, gelesen zu werden.

Maurice Dantec selbst definiert sich als «gläubigen und zionistischen Kämpfer». Von uns im Westen verlangt er, wieder die zu werden, als die uns die Jihadisten zu Unrecht beschreiben: uns wieder in Gekreuzigte zu verwandeln. Einzig eine spirituelle Macht wie das Christentum oder das Judentum wäre seiner Meinung nach imstande, mit einer anderen spirituellen Macht wie dem Islam zu kämpfen.

An dieser Stelle bin ich versucht, sehr weit auszuholen, weil ich gerade Lamartines «L'Histoire des Girondins» lese, die recht eigentlich eine Geschichte der Französischen Revolution ist. Zuallererst verwundert einen in diesem Buch der Glaube, der die französischen Revolutionäre beseelt, ein Glaube, der sie unsinnige Akte des Heldentums hat vollführen lassen und der es ihnen erlaubt hat, das verbündete Europa militärisch zu besiegen, während im Land selber mehrere Bürgerkriege tobten. Haben wir heute, wir anderen liberalen Demokraten zu Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts, denselben republikanischen Glauben?

Die Frage zu stellen, heisst, sie schon zu beantworten.

Allerdings erstaunt auch die monströse Grausamkeit der französischen Revolutionäre. Man kann verstehen, wenn Joseph de Maistre die Französische Revolution als eine vollständig satanische Veranstaltung ansieht. Alle vier oder fünf Seiten bei Lamartine werden auf Lanzen aufgespiesste abgeschlagene Köpfe herumgetragen. Und ohne Unterbrechung diese abscheulichen Geschichten. Da gibt es die berühmteste, jene der Prinzessin von Lamballe, deren Vulva an ihrem Leichnam zerschnitten wurde – von einem Aufrührer, der sich einen falschen Bart daraus machte.
Der französische Autor Michel Houellebecq während der Vorstellung seines Romans «Plattform» im März 2002. (Bild: Imago)
Der französische Autor Michel Houellebecq während der Vorstellung seines Romans «Plattform» im März 2002. (Bild: Imago)
Grausamkeiten der Revolution

Da sind die abgeschlagenen Köpfe, die man zum Kegeln benutzte; die Kinder, die ihren Eltern das Grab schaufeln mussten. Wiederholte Szenen, in denen der Helfer des Henkers einen von der Guillotine herabgefallenen Kopf zurückholt, um ihn unter den Anschuldigungen des Publikums zu ohrfeigen.

Neben den französischen Revolutionären erscheinen die Menschen des Islamischen Staates beinahe zivilisiert.

An diesem Punkt gibt es einen Zweifel, den ich mit Ihnen teilen möchte, einen Pascalschen, sinistren Zweifel, der aber paradoxerweise einen Hoffnungsschimmer bergen kann.

Die herkömmliche Idee ist, zugegeben, dass das menschliche Wesen zum Heldentum wie zur Grausamkeit fähig wird, weil es durch einen Glauben beseelt ist; meistens religiös, gelegentlich revolutionär. Der Pascalsche Zweifel meint, dass der Mensch mitunter von einer Trunkenheit der Gewalt, der Grausamkeit, des Gemetzels ergriffen wird und dass er dann als Vorwand irgendeinen beliebigen Glauben verwendet, am häufigsten einen religiösen, um seine Taten zu rechtfertigen.

Also, die Grausamkeit und das Gemetzel breiteten sich aus und verzehrten das Land.

Und dann, mit einem Schlag, hört das auf. Warum hat die Französische Revolution ein Ende genommen? Warum wurden die Menschen mit einem Schlag dieser Blutorgie überdrüssig? Darüber wissen wir nichts. Mit einem Mal, ohne ersichtlichen Grund, liessen die Menschen davon ab, und die Gier nach Blut verschwand. Und vielleicht ist es einfach so, ohne wirklichen Grund, auf konfuse Weise und wenig spektakulär, dass der Islamische Staat enden wird.

Von dieser grausamen, gewalttätigen männlichen Welt spricht Philippe Muray sehr wenig. Er ist zu früh gestorben, um ihr Wiedererscheinen wirklich mitzuerleben. Vor allem berichtet er uns von einer ermüdeten westlichen Welt, wehleidig und ängstlich, und auch da haben sich seine Vorhersagen verblüffend genau erfüllt.

Aber bevor ich über Philippe Muray spreche, möchte ich Ihnen eine berühmte Stelle von Tocqueville vorlesen, schon rein zum Vergnügen, denn es ist immer ein Vergnügen, so viel Intelligenz gepaart zu sehen mit einer solchen stilistischen Eleganz. «Ich will mir vorstellen, unter welchen neuen Merkmalen der Despotismus in der Welt auftreten könnte: Ich erblicke eine Menge einander ähnlicher und gleichgestellter Menschen, die sich rastlos im Kreise drehen, um sich kleine und gewöhnliche Vergnügungen zu verschaffen, die ihr Gemüt ausfüllen.

Jeder steht in seiner Vereinzelung dem Schicksal aller andern fremd gegenüber: Seine Kinder und seine persönlichen Freunde verkörpern für ihn das ganze Menschengeschlecht; was die übrigen Mitbürger angeht, so steht er neben ihnen, aber er sieht sie nicht; er berührt sie, und er fühlt sie nicht; er ist nur in sich und für sich allein vorhanden, und bleibt ihm noch eine Familie, so kann man zumindest sagen, dass er kein Vaterland mehr hat.

Der erste Feind, den unsere westliche Gesellschaft auszurotten versucht, ist das männliche Zeitalter, ist die Männlichkeit selbst.

Über diesen erhebt sich eine gewaltige, bevormundende Macht, die allein dafür sorgt, ihre Genüsse zu sichern und ihr Schicksal zu überwachen. Sie ist unumschränkt, ins Einzelne gehend, regelmässig, vorsorglich und mild. Sie wäre der väterlichen Gewalt gleich, wenn sie wie diese das Ziel verfolgte, die Menschen auf das reife Alter vorzubereiten; stattdessen aber sucht sie bloss, sie unwiderruflich im Zustand der Kindheit festzuhalten; es ist ihr recht, dass die Bürger sich vergnügen, vorausgesetzt, dass sie nichts anderes im Sinne haben, als sich zu belustigen.

Sie arbeitet gerne für deren Wohl; sie will aber dessen alleiniger Förderer und einziger Richter sein; sie sorgt für ihre Sicherheit, ermisst und sichert ihren Bedarf, erleichtert ihre Vergnügungen, führt ihre wichtigsten Geschäfte, lenkt ihre Industrie, ordnet ihre Erbschaften, teilt ihren Nachlass; könnte sie ihnen nicht auch die Sorge des Nachdenkens und die Mühe des Lebens ganz abnehmen?»

Das wurde 1840 veröffentlicht, im zweiten Teil von Tocquevilles Meisterwerk «Über die Demokratie in Amerika». Das ist schwindelerregend. Was die Ideen betrifft, so enthält diese Passage praktisch mein gesamtes geschriebenes Werk. Ich habe dem nur eines hinzuzufügen gehabt, und das ist, dass das Individuum, welches bei Tocqueville noch Freunde und eine Familie hat, sie bei mir nicht mehr hat. Der Prozess der Vereinzelung ist abgeschlossen.

Was die Ideen betrifft, enthält diese Stelle auch praktisch die gesamten Schriften von Philippe Muray. Philippe hat nichts als die Präzisierung hinzugefügt, dass jene Macht keine väterliche Macht ist, sondern in Wirklichkeit nichts anderes als die mütterliche Macht. Mit den von Philipp Muray angekündigten neuen Zeiten ist ganz einfach die Rückkehr des Matriarchats in neuer Form gemeint, in Staatsform. Die Bürger werden in einem Zustand fortgesetzter Kindheit unterhalten, und der erste Feind, den unsere westliche Gesellschaft auszurotten versucht, ist das männliche Zeitalter, ist die Männlichkeit selbst.

Die Prostitution abzuschaffen, das ist für die europäischen Gesellschaften einfach ein Selbstmord.

In diesem Sinn hat die Entwicklung der französischen Gesellschaft seit Philippe Murays Tod und insbesondere seit der Rückkehr der Sozialisten an die Macht seine Prophetien in atemberaubendem Ausmass bestätigt, und mit einer Rasanz, die ihn selbst, glaube ich, erstaunt hätte. Die Tatsache, dass Frankreich nach Schweden das zweite Land der Welt sein könnte, das die Kunden von Prostituierten bestraft, das, so glaube ich, wäre selbst Philippe Muray schwergefallen zu glauben, er wäre entsetzt zurückgeschreckt vor der Perspektive. Nicht so früh. Nicht so schnell. Nicht in Frankreich.

Die Prostitution abschaffen heisst, eine der Säulen der sozialen Ordnung abzuschaffen. Das heisst, die Ehe unmöglich zu machen. Ohne die Prostitution, die der Ehe als Korrektiv dient, wird die Ehe untergehen, und mit ihr die Familie und die gesamte Gesellschaft. Die Prostitution abzuschaffen, das ist für die europäischen Gesellschaften einfach ein Selbstmord.

Also ja, man kann dieser ältesten, aus dem späten Mittelalter wieder aufgetauchten Formel, dem salafistischen Islam, eine grosse Zukunft voraussagen. Und also ja, ich bleibe bei meiner Prophetie, auch wenn die Ereignisse mir im Moment unrecht geben. Der Jihadismus wird ein Ende finden, denn die menschlichen Wesen werden des Gemetzels und des Opfers müde werden. Aber das Vordringen des Islam beginnt gerade erst, weil die Demografie auf seiner Seite ist und Europa, das aufhört, Kinder zu bekommen, sich in einen Prozess des Selbstmords begeben hat. Und das ist nicht wirklich ein langsamer Selbstmord. Wenn man erst einmal bei einer Geburtenrate von 1,3 oder 1,4 angekommen ist, dann geht die Sache in Wirklichkeit sehr schnell.
Salafisten in Europa
Das Ziel ist die islamistische Herrschaft
von Michael Koller 30.8.2016, 05:30

Unter diesen Umständen sind die unterschiedlichen Debatten, die von den französischen Intellektuellen geführt werden über die Trennung von Kirche und Staat, den Islam usw., von gar keinem Interesse, weil sie den einzigen relevanten Faktor, den Zustand des Paars, der Familie, gar nicht einbeziehen. Also kann es auch nicht überraschen, dass im Verlauf der letzten zwanzig Jahre die einzigen Personen, die einen interessanten und bedeutsamen Diskurs über den Zustand der Gesellschaft geführt haben, nicht die Berufs-Intellektuellen waren, sondern Leute, die sich für das wirkliche Leben von Menschen interessieren, das heisst die Schriftsteller.

Ich hatte das grosse Glück, Philippe Muray und Maurice Dantec persönlich zu kennen und so unmittelbaren Zugang zu ihrem Denken zu haben in dem Moment, in dem es sich vollzog. Heute sind sie tot, und ich habe nichts mehr zu sagen.

Das heisst nicht, dass ich am Ende bin. In einem Roman sind Ideen nicht essenziell, umso weniger in einem Gedicht. Und um den Fall eines genialen Romanciers zu nehmen, bei dem die Ideen eine Hauptrolle spielen, so kann man doch nicht sagen, dass die «Brüder Karamasow» im Vergleich zu den «Dämonen» mehr Ideen liefern. Man kann sogar, mit ein wenig Übertreibung, sagen, dass alle Ideen von Dostojewski bereits in «Verbrechen und Strafe» enthalten waren.

Dennoch ist sich der Grossteil der Kritiker einig, dass «Die Brüder Karamasow» den Höhepunkt des Dostojewskischen Werkes darstellt. Persönlich muss ich gestehen, dass ich mir eine kleine Schwäche für die «Dämonen» bewahre, aber vielleicht habe ich unrecht, und das ist auch eine andere Debatte.

Man kann auf jeden Fall behaupten, dass es in meinem Alter wenig wahrscheinlich ist, dass ich in meinen zukünftigen Werken fundamental neuen Ideen Ausdruck verleihen werde. Ich befinde mich also hier vor Ihnen in einer seltsamen Lage, in der meine einzigen wahrhaftigen Gesprächspartner gestorben sind. Es gibt in Frankreich noch begabte Schriftsteller, es gibt in Frankreich noch schätzenswerte Intellektuelle, aber das ist nicht das Gleiche wie mit Muray oder Dantec. Heute interessiert es mich, was die anderen schreiben, aber es fasziniert mich nicht wirklich.
Freie Männer

Es passiert mir, dass ich mich frage, warum ich noch am Leben bin. Ist das eine Frage der literarischen Begabung? Ja, sicher, das spielt mit, aber im Grunde ist das nicht wesentlich. Muray und Dantec besassen grosse literarische Begabung, ein seltenes Talent, aber was noch seltener ist, sie schrieben, ohne jemals an Anstandsregeln oder Konsequenzen zu denken. Sie scherten sich nicht darum, ob sich diese oder jene Zeitung von ihnen abwandte, sie akzeptierten es gegebenenfalls, sich vollkommen allein dastehen zu sehen. Sie schrieben einfach – und einzig und allein für ihre Leser, ohne jemals an die Limitationen und Befürchtungen zu denken, die die Zugehörigkeit zu einem Milieu einschliesst.

Mit anderen Worten, sie waren freie Männer.

Und ihre Freiheit war befreiend. Dank ihnen sind die französischen Intellektuellen heute in einer neuen Lage, so neu, dass sie sie noch gar nicht ganz ermessen haben: Sie sind frei. Sie sind frei, denn sie sind befreit aus der Zwangsjacke der Linken. Und sie sind auch deshalb frei, weil sie nicht mehr leiden – oder jedenfalls weniger leiden unter der Art von Faszination, von heiligem Zauber, der auf ihre Vorgänger ausgeübt wurde durch die vorgeblichen grossen Denker des voraufgegangenen Jahrhunderts. Mit anderen Worten, die heiligen Kühe sind tot. Der Erste, der von diesem anscheinend unhintergehbaren Horizont des Denkens verschwand, war Marx.

Eine ganze Weile später ist Freud ihm ins Grab gefolgt. Das ist noch ganz und gar nicht der Fall bei Nietzsche, aber ich bin guter Dinge, dass dies in nicht allzu langer Zeit geschehen wird. (An diesem Punkt muss ich, um ehrlich zu sein, unterstreichen, dass ich, was Nietzsche angeht, nicht mit meinen Kameraden übereinstimmte, die bis zum Schluss grosse Achtung für Nietzsche bezeugten, das ist bei weitem nicht der Fall bei mir.)
Der französische Philosoph Michel Onfray will Sigmund Freud vom Sockel stossen
Hass auf die Psychoanalyse
3.7.2010, 02:00

Man kann nicht sagen, und darauf bestehe ich, dass die französischen Intellektuellen «sich befreit hätten»: Die Wahrheit ist, wir waren es, die sie befreit haben, wir haben mit dem gebrochen, was sie hemmte, und ich bin einigermassen stolz, an der Seite von Philippe Muray, an der Seite von Maurice Dantec meinen Teil dazu beigetragen zu haben. Keiner von uns dreien ist meiner Meinung nach gewesen, was man einen grossen Denker nennen könnte, dazu waren wir wahrscheinlich zu sehr Künstler, aber wir haben das Denken befreit. Jetzt ist es an den Intellektuellen, sich ans Denken zu machen, und wenn sie ein neues Denken hervorbringen können, dass sie es dann auch tun.

Aus dem Französischen übersetzt von Wiebke Hüster."

Sep 28, 16

"Controversial President of UK’s Largest Student Union Fails to Apologize for ‘Zionist Outpost’ Comment Widely Condemned as Antisemitic
avatar by Lea Speyer
NUS president Malia Bouattia. Photo: NUS UK.

NUS president Malia Bouattia. Photo: NUS UK.

During a BBC radio interview on Tuesday, the controversial head of the UK’s largest student union failed to apologize for comments widely condemned as antisemitic, British media outlets reported.

National Union of Students (NUS) President Malia Bouattia was unrepentant when challenged about a 2011 article she co-wrote, characterizing the UK’s Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost” because of its large Jewish population.

Bouattia told her BBC Radio 4 interviewer, “I would certainly review my language and would definitely want to explain the political context which I was discussing. I absolutely was not saying the things that it has been interpreted as [being antisemitic], if you will.”
September 27, 2016 8:29 pm
Airbnb Swiftly Banishes Amsterdam-Based Host for Discriminating Against Israelis

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As The Algemeiner previously reported, the Algerian-born Bouattia first attracted controversy when she was running for the NUS leadership position, and comments she had made in support of terrorism against Israel came to light. In 2014, for example, while speaking at a “pro-resistance” event celebrating “Gaza and the Palestinian revolution,” she asserted that it is “problematic” to consider that “Palestine will be free” only by means of “non-violent protest,” and bemoaned the fact that “resistance” is presented as terrorism.

More recently, following an interview with the UK’s Guardian — in which Bouattia acknowledged she applies double standards when it comes to racism against Jews — an official from a major British student group slammed the NUS president for “failing” Jewish students.

“One rule for Jews, another for everyone else,” the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) official wrote. “Does she realize that many Jewish students have fears about going onto campus this year, let alone engaging in NUS’ structures? Does she realize the impact that her election has had on Jewish students?”

The NUS — representing 600 student groups and 7 million individuals — is turning into an organization with which “many Jewish students are not invited to engage” under Bouattia’s leadership, he wrote, adding, “It is one where terms like ‘Zionist-led media’ and ‘Zionist lobby’ are clearly accepted.”
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Sep 27, 16

"ICC Ruling: Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi sentenced to 9 years in prison for destruction of the fabled shrines of Timbuktu

Arrested in Niger and transferred to The Hague in September 2015 Ahmad al Faqi al Mahdi, a one time member of the Mali-operating Islamic fundamentalist group Ansar ed-Din (best translated as guardians of the faith) stood before the Trial Chamber VIII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today while it delivered its judgment in the case of The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi. During today's hearing, the Chamber unanimously found Mr Al Mahdi guilty beyond reasonable doubt as a co-perpetrator of the war crime consisting in intentionally directing attacks against religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu, Mali.

During a 45 minute long hearing presented in its entirety below, the three-judge Chamber sentenced Mr Al Mahdi to nine years imprisonment with a deduction of time served for the days in which he has been incarcerated following his arrest in Nigeria on the ICC warrant issued on 18 September 2015.

According to ICC documents Mr. al-Mahdi was appointed to head the Hisbah (the manners brigade) in April 2012 which he oversaw until September 2012. The Hisbah was in charge of regulating the morality of the people of Timbuktu, and of suppressing and repressing anything perceived by the occupying forces to constitute a visible vice.

Between June 30, 2012 and around July 11, 2012 al-Mahdi and his co-perpetrators first attacked and destroyed:

Sep 27, 16

"Jewish 'Avenger' Harmatz dies at 91

Joseph Harmatz, a Holocaust survivor who led a plot to poison thousands of former SS officers, has died in Israel. The plot caused no known deaths, despite a high dose being administered.
Israel Joseph Harmatz

Joseph Harmatz, who in 1946 led a daring attempt by Jews to take revenge on their former Nazi tormentors by poisoning their food with arsenic, has died at 91, his son Ronel confirmed on Monday.

Harmatz was one of the few remaining Jewish "Avengers" who carried out the mass poisoning in an American prisoner-of-war camp, causing more than 2,200 former SS men to become ill, though none of them is known to have died.

The Lithuanian-born Harmatz, who lost most of his family in the Holocaust, was a member of a group of some 50 mostly young men and women who were determined to pay back at least some of the suffering imposed on the Jews during the Nazi era.

Plan to kill

Undercover members of the group, called Nakam - Hebrew for "vengeance" - who were employed at a bakery supplying an American POW camp at Langwasser near the southern German city of Nuremberg coated some 3,000 loaves of bread with arsenic. Their aim was to kill 12,000 former SS personnel housed in the camp. Harmatz supervised the operation from outside the bakery.
Deutschland Bäckerei in Nürnberg 1946 (picture alliance/AP Photo/)

The bakery served the Stalag 13 prisoner-of-war camp

The plan to kill failed, even though, according to a recently declassified US military report obtained by the Associated Press, the amount of arsenic used should have fatally poisoned tens of thousands.

Harmatz managed to escape capture and immigrated to Israel, where he worked at the Jewish Agency and was director general of World ORT, a Jewish educational organization.

'Extraordinary circumstances'

German prosecutors later investigated Harmatz after details of the operation were revealed in a television documentary in 1999. However, they decided not to file attempt murder charges because of the "extraordinary circumstances."

Harmatz remained unapologetic for his actions and those of the Nakam group to the end, telling AP in an interview shortly before his death: "We didn't understand why it shouldn't be paid back."

An estimated six million Jews died during World War II at the hands of the Nazis and their helpers. Before being killed, many of them underwent long periods of suffering and brutal mistreatment in Nazi death camps and elsewhere."

Sep 27, 16

"King Abdullah of Jordan said this in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday:

Safeguarding Jerusalem is a key concern . . . . the Holy City; a strategic linchpin not only for my region but for the world.

This is a priority for me personally, and for all Muslims. We utterly reject attacks on Muslim and Christian Holy Sites and any attempts to alter the historic Muslim, Christian and Arab identity of the Holy City. As the Custodian of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem, I will continue my efforts to protect these places, and stand up against all violations of their sanctity, including attempts for temporal and spatial division of Al Aqsa Mosque/Al Haram Al Sharif.

In this short section:

- He accused Israeli Jews of "attacking" Jerusalem holy sites
- He said that Jews have no rights to Jerusalem
- He implied that Israel should not have control over any part of the Old City including the Jewish Quarter and the Kotel
- He said Jews have no rights to their own holy sites in Jerusalem
- He implied that Jews walking around peacefully on their holiest site are desecrating it
- He implied that Muslims playing soccer or engaging in parkour on the Temple Mount are acting respectfully
- He accused Israel of trying to divide up the Temple Mount, which would be a great idea, but there are no such plans
- He implied that banning Jews from their holy sites is to "protect" them

Abdullah is the most ideal of all Arab leaders. Urbane, Western educated, not tied to terror and in fact very much against Islamic terrorism, not sympathetic to Hamas - all Arab leaders should be more like him.

Yet even this most liberal of Arab leaders is an antisemite who denies Jews the most basic of human rights - the rights to worship and the right to self-determination, for starters. Beyond that, he denies basic Jewish history and the Jewish historic ties to Jerusalem that predate Islam by about 1600 years.

The Arab world might accept Israel's existence one day for realpolitik reasons. But Abdullah proves that no matter how liberal the Arab world becomes, they will never, ever stop being antisemites.

(h/t Irene)


Sep 27, 16

"If there is one sector of society that should be cultivating deep thought in itself and others, it is academia. Yet the corporatisation of the contemporary university has sped up the clock, demanding increased speed and efficiency from faculty regardless of the consequences for education and scholarship.

In The Slow Professor, Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber discuss how adopting the principles of the Slow movement in academic life can counter this erosion of humanistic education. Focusing on the individual faculty member and his or her own professional practice, Berg and Seeber present both an analysis of the culture of speed in the academy and ways of alleviating stress while improving teaching, research, and collegiality. The Slow Professor will be a must-read for anyone in academia concerned about the frantic pace of contemporary university life."

Sep 27, 16

"Celebrate the Jewish New Year with traditional symbols, classic Jewish and Middle Eastern foods, and innovative Israeli dishes "

Sep 27, 16

"Home > Jewish World > Archaeology
Researchers: Jerusalem Structure Was Dining Room of Ancient City Council

Archaeologist Alexander Onn compares the Second Temple era hall with Israel's parliamentary cafeteria, a modern meeting place of the ruling elite.
Nir Hasson Sep 26, 2016 5:11 PM
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The Second Temple era structure discovered near Western Wall.Assaf Peretz / the Israel Antiquities Authority

Israeli archaeologists dodge the law to study human remains
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About five years ago, near the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem, archaeologist Alexander Onn discovered remnants of an unusual building from the Second Temple period that has been dated to the end of the 1st century B.C.E.

The structure consists of two large rooms connected by a water system that featured a decorative fountain.

Archeologists have been in agreement that this was a large, opulent building from the Herodian period, perhaps the most opulent beyond the confines of the Temple Mount, but what it was used for had not been clear. The accepted assumption up until recently was that it was a large public fountain of the kind familiar from public squares in Roman cities at the time.

Now, however, Prof. Joseph Patrich of Hebrew University and Dr. Shlomit Wexler-Bedolah of the Israel Antiquities Authority say this was the triclinium, the site of the dining halls and reception areas of the city council of Jerusalem at the time. In some respects, that would make it like today’s Knesset cafeteria, the ultimate meeting place of the ruling elite.

A portion of the structure has been known to Jerusalem scholars since the end of the 19th century, when one of the two large rooms was studied by British researcher Charles Warren. It was known as the Freemason’s Hall, even though as far as is known, unlike some underground sites in Jerusalem, the Freemasons did not use it. The second large hall was only discovered in 2012 during additional excavations of the Western Wall tunnels. A sophisticated water system was discovered between the rooms that includes a reservoir, piping and six openings for fountains.

The structure discovered in the course of the tunnel excavations is the largest and most impressive Herodian structure ever discovered in Jerusalem.

There had been researchers who thought that the city council of the time convened here. The ancient historian Josephus Flavius, who left behind a detailed description of the city at the end of the Second Temple period (which ended in 70 C.E. with the Temple’s destruction by the Romans), wrote that there were two structures in the area, the council building and a square with columns.

But no evidence has been found on the walls or floors of the past presence of benches arranged in a U-shaped configuration, which might have shown it to be a council chamber. And a reexamination of the structure revealed that indentations in the walls suggested that sofa seating had been installed on them, which could have been used for dining and rest.

A public square, not a hall

Patrich came to this conclusion after comparing the indentations in the walls to similar finds in Israel and elsewhere in the Roman world from the period. “It wasn’t a hall in a palace, but rather a public space,” said Patrich.

“It was built for the city,” he continued. “The city was controlled by a municipal council that dealt with sewage, with providing food and water, similar to Hellenistic cities.”

It was apparently built a short time after the year 30 B.C.E. and served the city for 60 years, until it was destroyed in an earthquake in the year 30 or 33 C.E. And when Joseph Flavius described the city about 40 years later, the complete structure was no longer there. As a result, he mentioned only the council building, which continued to function in the area. "

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